Art History in “A Pale View of Hills” by Kazuo Ishiguro

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A mother (Etsuko) living in England remembers her life with family in post-World War II Japan. One memory involves her and her father-in-law visiting a sculpture garden she recounts as “Peace Park.” An investigation of this place led me to Japan’s Nagasaki Peace Park.  

The book explains that this sculpture, created by Seibo Kitamura, reminds people of the dropping of Fat Man. Looking at it, Etsuko contemplates the artwork’s ideals, style, and execution. Despite its good intentions, she finds it an awkward installation of the park and a shallow commemoration of the tragedy. As depicted in the book, Japan is stable, but there are still clashes between Japanese traditions and new American influences underneath the peace and stability. For the citizens of Japan, those influences at the moment feel just as awkward and intrusive as the statue.

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